Jamesville-DeWitt guard Momo LaClair (23) moves pass a Pittsford Mendon defender to the basket during last Saturday’s state Class A semifinal at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, where the Red Rams lost, 44-32, to the Vikings despite LaClair’s seven points, six rebounds and three steals.
Only at the penultimate hurdle, and against a familar foe, did the Jamesville-DeWitt girls basketball team’s quest for a fourth consecutive state Class A championship reach an end.
The Red Rams were never able to fully overcome a prolonged first-half scoring drought in Saturday’s state Class A semifinal at Troy’s Hudson Valley Community College, ultimately taking a 44-32 defeat to Section V’s Pittsford Mendon.
For two teams from different parts of the state, J-D and Mendon knew each other well.
Two years earlier in Troy, the Rams edged the Vikings 48-46 in the championship game for the second of those three straight state titles. They had also met late in January, Mendon this time prevailing 45-40.
As such, the familiarity with each other’s systems created an expectation of a close contest with plenty of defense on display – but no one, on either side, anticipated just how much J-D would struggle in the early going.
Taking 16 shots in the first half, the Rams only made three of them. That included 11 consecutive misses from 3-point range until Gabby Stickle converted late in the second quarter.
By then, Mendon was in firm control. With a patient, balanced attack and extra chances from forcing 10 J-D turnovers, the Vikings went on 9-0 runs in both the first and second quarters.
Trailing 25-8 at halftime, the Rams needed just three minutes in the third quarter to match its entire first-half point total as it ate away at Mendon’s margin and reinforced its defense at the same time.
All told, J-D put together a 17-2 run, moving within five, 27-22, late in the period and giving itself a chance heading into the fourth quarter.
And the Rams, who held Mendon to one field goal in the third quarter, produced another run 7-0 run late, capped by Sydney Baker’s basket with 1:42 left that cut the Vikings’ margin to 37-32.
Ultimately, Mendon regrouped and, with late free throws, put the game away. In defeat, Stickle finished with 15 points, all from five 3-pointers, while Momo LaClair had seven points, six rebounds and three steals. Baler got five rebounds as Andrea Sumida managed six rebounds and three blocks.
For Mendon, Lexi Green and Alana Fursman led the way with 13 points apiece, and the Vikings followed this up by advancing to Sunday’s championship game and defeating Binghamton Seton Catholic 59-50 to claim the state title for itself.
Though the Rams’ reign as state champion ended, its preeminence seems far from over. Every starter- Stickle, Baker, LaClair, Sumida and Paige Keeler – plus all of the key reserves come back in 2019-20, defending a streak of eight consecutive sectional titles and newly hungry to reclaim state honors, too.
Mar 20, 2019